Diplomats Accept #1 Seed in 2005 ECAC Men's Basketball South Region Championship Tournament
LANCASTER, PA - Franklin & Marshall College has accepted a bid as the #1 seed in the eight team 2005 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) South Region Men's Basketball Championship Tournament.
The tournament field is rounded out by Carnegie Mellon (#2), DeSales (#3), Scranton (#4), Alvernia (#5), Catholic (#6), Gettysburg (#7) and Lincoln (#8).
The Diplomats will open the tournament on March 2 at 7:00 p.m. versus Lincoln in the Mayser Center. If the Diplomats win, F&M will then host the semifinals (Friday, 6 & 8 p.m.) and title game (Saturday, 7 p.m.). On Friday, the winner of the F&M-Lincoln game will face the victor of the Scranton-Alvernia game at 6 p.m., with the winners of the DeSales-Catholic and Carnegie Mellon-Gettysburg games taking the court at 8:00 p.m.
The team's ECAC tournament appearance marks the Diplomats third in the last four years. The 2002 and 2003 ECAC Champions, F&M is 5-0 all-time in ECAC competition after defeating Lebanon Valley (71-59 W) and Kings (82-65 W) to take the 2003 title and Moravian College (79-59 W), Neumann College (90-66 W) and DeSales University (70-60 W) to win the 2004 crown.
F&M (20-7, 14-4 Centennial Conference), which lost 72-70 in the Centennial Conference Championship to Ursinus on February 27 in Lancaster, will look to picks up its fourth postseason title in the last four years, including the 2004 Centennial Conference crown, and claim Franklin & Marshall's second ECAC Championship of the year following the football team's Southwest Region Championship in the fall.
Guard Jackiem Wright (Sr., Sicklerville, NJ/Moorestown Friends), forward Brandon Smith (Jr., Reading, PA/Governor Mifflin) and center Dan Lynch (Sr., Richboro, PA/Council Rock) lead the way for the Diplomats.
A first team All-Centennial Conference selection this year, Smith has recorded 461 points, 189 rebounds, 63 assists, 19 blocks and 61 steals this season.
The February 21 Centennial Conference Co-Player of the Week, he poured in 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 97-71 win over Washington College on February 19 to help the Diplomats clinch the #1 seed and "Final Four" hosting rights in the Centennial Conference playoffs.
In the Centennial Conference title game against Ursinus, he dropped in 26 points, pulled down five rebounds and grabbed three steals to raise his career totals to 1,033 points, 458 rebounds, 175 assists, 47 blocks and 148 steals while shooting .492 from the field (380-of-772) and .370 from beyond the arc (113-of-305) in 87 games
A three-time All-Centennial Conference selection following second team honors in 2003 and 2004, Wright has been electric for the Diplomats with 374 points, 49 rebounds, 67 assists, eight blocks and 37 steals in 27 games this season.
Wright, who transferred to F&M from Division I LaSalle University prior to his sophomore season and was granted a fifth year of eligibility prior to the 2005 season, holds the F&M record for three point baskets as he has drained 263-of-687 attempts (38.3%).
The 2002 ECAC Tournament MVP, Wright ranks seventh on the F&M career scoring list with 1,378 points and has tallied 218 rebounds, 183 assists, 137 steals and 25 blocks in 116 career games. Further, he is three games away from tying former Diplomat Chris Finch '92 for second place in NCAA Division III history for most games played in a career.
At center, Lynch has been a force in the paint for the Diplomats recording 289 points, 178 rebounds, five blocks, 67 assists and 37 steals in 27 games.
Versus Ursinus in the Centennial Conference title game, he connected on 10-of-15 from the field for 23 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to raise his career totals to 323 points, 329 rebounds, 107 assists, 64 steals and nine blocks in 96 games as the senior class of Bob Lynch (Sr., Richboro, PA/Council Rock), Lynch and Wright are 95-21 over their four year careers.
On the bench, F&M head coach Glenn Robinson, the all-time wins leader in Division III men's basketball history, will be looking for his 695th career victory against Lincoln as he now stands at 694-242 in his 34 year coaching career.
Lincoln (21-6) is led by junior guard Kyle Myrick and senior forward Jarett Kearse who are combining for an average of 53.0 points as the Lions are averaging 87.0 points per game.
The Lions' leading scorer with 27.1 ppg, the 6-6 Kearse played two years at Division I West Virginia University averaging 12.5 points, 6.7 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 3.0 steals to be named All-Big East third team as a sophomore. Further, he helped West Virginia advance to the NCAA "Sweet 16" in 1998 as a freshman.
After West Virginia, Kearse played a semester at Division II Shaw University where he helped the Bears advance to the NCAA Division II Final Four by averaging 12.5 points, 5.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds.
Overall, Kearse is shooting .467 (202-of-467) from the field, .359 (106-295) from beyond the arc, .782 (86-110) at the free throw line for 596 points, while tallying 181 rebounds (33 offensive, 148 defensive), 100 assists, 12 blocks and 44 steals in 22 games.
The other half of Lincoln's high-scoring tandem, Myrick attended Riverside (Calif.) Junior College before enrolling at Lincoln. This year, he has registered 698 points, 150 rebounds (53 offensive, 97 defensive), 158 assists, 68 steals and four blocks while shooting .512 (277-of-541) from the field, .247 (19-of-77) from beyond the arc and .822 (125-of-152) from the charity stripe.
The Lions are coached by first year head coach Garfield Yuille who turned around an 8-17 team from last season to record the most wins in Lincoln men's basketball history at 21-6.
Lincoln will enter the Mayser Center following a 92-82 loss to New Jersey City College on February 26 at St. Joseph's College in Standish, Maine in the 2005 Association of Independents Northeast Men's Basketball Championships as the loss allowed New Jersey City to advance to the NCAA Tournament field over the Lions.
Overall, Lincoln has been on fire since January 1 recording a 15-2 record with the only losses coming to New Jersey City on January 29 (76-70 L OT) and February 26.
Historically, Franklin & Marshall holds a 9-2 advantage in the series with Lincoln, including a nine game winning streak dating back to a 70-46 loss at Lincoln on December 15, 1950 as part of a 10-8 season.
In their last meeting on January 22, 2003, Franklin & Marshall defeated Lincoln 83-59 on the road behind 14 points and seven rebounds by Smith. The last time the Lions visited the Mayser Center, Lincoln fell 91-60 in the championship game of the 2003 Lancaster Rotary Tip-Off the New Year Tournament on January 4, 2003 behind 34 points by Wright.
In the Rotary title game, Wright hit 12-of-21 from the field, including six-of-12 from beyond the arc, in 30 minutes to earn tournament most valuable player honors.
Ticket prices are $4 for adults, $2 for students (13-18 without ID) and free for youth 12 and under. Also, students from the participating teams are admitted free upon presentation of a current school ID.
2005 ECAC SOUTH REGION CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT
Wednesday, March 2
#8 Lincoln (21-6) @ #1 F&M (20-7) 7:00 p.m.
#7 Gettysburg (16-10) @ #2 Carnegie Mellon (16-8)
#6 Catholic (19-8) @ #3 DeSales (20-6)
#5 Alvernia (17-10) @ #4 Scranton (19-6)
Friday, March 4 (@ highest remaining seed)
Saturday, March 5 (@ highest remaining seed)